Sofia Vergara speaks out about the joys of raising her 23-year-old son, Manolo Gonzalez-Ripoll Vergara

By Kathy Ehrich Dowd
Updated April 21, 2016 03:05 PM
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She’s sexy, funny and married to one of the hottest guys alive.

But years ago, Sofia Vergara was a single mom struggling to raise her son, Manolo Gonzalez-Ripoll Vergara, the best way she knew how.

Now, her little boy is a grown man of 23 – and his mother is savoring every flattering remark someone makes about him.

“Every time people compliment me about my son, Manolo, it is very rewarding,” says Vergara, who is included in PEOPLE’s 2016 Most Beautiful special issue.

The Venezuelan-born Modern Family star, 43, married her high school sweetheart, Joe Gonzalez, at 18, and the pair welcomed Manolo two years later. The couple split in 1993.

“I was really young when I divorced his father, so I raised him trying to set the best example and give him the best that I could,” she explains. “When people compliment me on him, on how well mannered, how charming, funny and well-behaved he is, it makes all the sacrifices worthwhile.”

For Jennifer Aniston’s revealing interview, in which she shares beauty tips and secrets she’s learned over the years, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands Friday

Last November, Manolo was by her side when she wed Joe Manganiello, posting silly shots on Instagram during the festive weekend, including one of himself in a #Jofia T-shirt.

And last May, Vergara looked on proudly as Manolo graduated from Emerson College. She shared sweets shots of her son clad in a cap and gown on Instagram, captioning one photo “Bravo!!!”